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Omnism is the recognition and respect of all religions; those who hold this belief are called omnists (or Omnists). The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) quotes as the term's earliest usage by English poet Philip J. Bailey: in 1839 "I am an omnist, and believe in all religions". In recent years, the term has been emerging anew, due to the interest of modern day self-described omnists who have rediscovered and begun to redefine the term. It can be thought of as syncretism taken to its logical extreme. However, it can also be seen as a way to accept the existence of various religions without believing in all that they profess to teach. Many omnists say that all religions contain truths, but that no one religion offers all that is truth.
Contemporary usage has modified "belief in all religions" to refer more to an acceptance of the legitimacy of all religions. The OED elaborates that an omnist believes "in a single transcendent purpose or cause uniting all things or people". That is not necessarily the conclusion of those who describe themselves as omnists. Some omnists interpret this to mean that all religions contain varying elements of a common truth, or place omnism in opposition to dogmatism, in that omnists are open to potential truths from all religions. However, as with modern physics, this does not mean that there is a single transcendent purpose or cause that unites. There may indeed be an infinite number of possibilities, or a deeper form of uncertainty in reality. There may be an influence more akin to existentialism in which consciousness is a power or force that helps determine the reality, yet is not a divine influence.
In this regard, omnism does not appear to be a form of theology, as it neither espouses nor opposes particular beliefs about God. Instead, it affirms the necessity of one arriving at an understanding of reality based on personal experience, engagement, and inquiry, and an acceptance of the validity and legitimacy of the differing understandings of others. In this, there is, however, an implied system of values or ethics.
- Philip James Bailey, who first coined the term.
- Ellen Burstyn, who affiliates herself with all religions, having stated that she is "a spirit opening to the truth that lives in all of these religions".
- Chris Martin, who referred to himself as an "all-theist", a term of his own coining referring to omnism.
- Perennial philosophy
- Religious pluralism
- Wiktionary:omnitheism, similar yet different
- Herbert F. Tucker (17 April 2008). Epic : Britain's Heroic Muse 1790-1910: Britain's Heroic Muse 1790-1910. OUP Oxford. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-19-923298-7.
- "Ellen Burstyn's True Face". Beliefnet. 2006. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- "Omnist", Oxford English Dictionary, draft revision June 2004 (accessed from oed.com October 6, 2005).